Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that coronavirus infections across the country are escalating due to the delta variant, but a worse version of the virus could loom if the United States does not deal with the pandemic.
The director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and chief medical advisor to Joe Biden, warned that more dangerous coronavirus variants could emerge if the United States does not dramatically increase the number of people being vaccinated.
“If we don’t squash the outbreak to the point of vaccinating the massive percentage of the population, what will happen is that the virus will continue to burn through the fall through winter, giving it a great chance of getting a replacement,” he told McClatchy.
“Honestly, we are very fortunate that the vaccines we have now work very well against variants, especially against severe diseases. We are very fortunate that this is the case. There could be a surviving variant that could push delta aside.”
He said the US would be “really in trouble” if a variant with the same transmissibility as the delta variant but with more severe symptoms emerged.
People who are not vaccinated mistakenly believe that it is only about them. But it is not. “It pertains to everyone else, too,” Dr. Fauci said.
The doctor said the recent rise in cases is a result of the high susceptibility to delta-variable transmission and the large number of people who haven’t had the vaccine yet.
“What we’re seeing, because of this increase in transmissibility, and because we have about 93 million people in this country who are eligible to get vaccinated and who don’t – that you have a large group of people at risk,” he said.
Nearly half of adults in the United States have been fully vaccinated, and 70 percent have had at least one injection.
While data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that less than one percent of vaccinated people have experienced a breakthrough infection, the agency is still updating its guidance to recommend mask use by fully vaccinated individuals indoors if They live in areas with high transmission rates.
Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the CDC, noted that the epidemic falls primarily among those who have not been vaccinated, and that the unvaccinated are the main driver of transmission to other unvaccinated people.
Because the coronavirus was recruited into the American culture wars early on, vaccination rates have fallen largely along political lines. While some Republican havens — like Florida — have generally maintained the national average for adult vaccinations, other states — Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri and Louisiana, for example — are in some cases 10 percent or more behind the national average.